Program: Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter
Craig Carter has worked for the Escondido Police Department since 1990 when he was hired as a Police Reserve Officer. Craig was hired as a Police Officer Trainee in 1992. Craig has risen through the ranks and was ultimately promoted to Chief of Police in August 2013. Chief Carter has been a member of the DUI enforcement team, SWAT, Off-Road Motorcycle Team, and has been a vocal advocate for the Community Policing philosophy, spent several years as the department’s press information officer and even served four years as the police association president.
He was an adjunct instructor at Palomar College for over 20 years teaching in the Administration of Justice department and police academies. In 2007, Chief Carter trained Marines at Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in the area of community policing, crime scene management, basic criminal intelligence and crime scene investigation prior to their deployment to Afghanistan. Craig has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration and is a graduate of the POST Command College. Craig’s specialties include emergency management mitigation, preparedness, and community policing. In 2016, Chief Carter was appointed to the State 911 Advisory Board under Governor Brown, and has served as president of the San Diego County Chiefs’ & Sheriff’s Association since 2014.
The Department has been fully staffed since September 15, 2016. This is a rare accomplishment in the country, and a first for the city. The hiring process, from application to passing probation, takes approximately 2 1/2 years; to be fully staffed he has to anticipate retirements and other transitions. The department is focused on keeping sworn officers on the street, and to that end workload is transferred from those sworn officers to civilian members of the department when appropriate. For example, rather than having an officer off of patrol for two and a half hours to transport a prisoner to a county jail facility, they employ a civilian Custody Transport Officer. The department is made up of 159 Peace Officers, 84 paid support staff (including dispatchers, parking enforcement, records clerks and administrative staff) and 69 non-paid members, including Volunteer Patrol and Explorers/Cadets.
Chief Carter is committed to keeping his department focused and positive. He is an advocate to the State and County on legislative issues that affect morale and public safety, including issues of prison realignment and sentencing, alcohol and marijuana regulation, racial profiling and many others. He is determined that his officers start each shift with a positive attitude toward the community and their contacts with the community.
The department's SWAT team has 23 members, and they are recognized by San Diego County as among the best, serving as the backup to the County SWAT team.
Chief Carter's priorities is to use the police department to ensure Escondido is a safe, clean and efficient city. His staff is foucused on crime, traffic, Grape Day Park, Downtown, and quality of life issues such as panhandling, vagrants, and graffiti. Many of the quality of life issues are handled by the civilian staff, including 4 members of the COPP's who work with the Public Works department. The dispatch center handled 202,407 calls in 2016, 63,047 were emergency calls. From the time a call is made to the center to dispatch of an officer is 20 seconds, and the average response time for emergent calls was 4 minutes, 3 seconds.
The department has reduced overall crime by 17%, violent crime by 1%, property crime by 20%. Overall, Escondido crime is down 48% since 1980. A large part of the reduction in crime is the diversion programs the department has in place. Nearly 2000 youth have been successfully diverted since the programs began in 2012. One of the most visible diversion programs is th eEscondido Police Athletic League, and after-school athletic and educational program. The participants are among the most vulnerable members of the community.